Athletics Advisory Board
Annual Report, 2011-12
This Report is intended to summarize for the University community both the major developments related to Boston College’s intercollegiate athletics program and the Athletics Advisory Board’s (AAB) activities during the preceding academic year.
1. The Year’s Academic and Athletic Highlights
A. ACC Academic Collaboration
The Inter-Institutional Academic Collaborative among Atlantic Coast Conference Universities (ACCIAC) sponsored its seventh year of initiatives, with full participation by BC students. Six BC students were selected by the ACCIAC to receive financial assistance for study abroad during 2011-12 in countries that included Argentina, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Spain.
The seventh annual “Meeting of the Minds” conference, designed to showcase undergraduate research at member institutions, was held at Virginia Tech, March 30 - April 1, 2012 Six BC students were chosen this year to present original work on topics that included childhood development, immigration policy, media communication, public health and renewable energy development.
Each year in February, teams of six student leaders each from the ACC member schools participate in a Student Leadership Conference, aimed at sharing knowledge and information on a specific social topic. This past year, the conference focused on “The Ethics of Globalization” and was held at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. This coming year, Boston College will serve as conference host.
B. Academic Achievements of Individual BC Student-Athletes
Several BC student-athletes were recognized this year for their academic and athletic achievements and their potential for future graduate study. Katarina Gajic (W Tennis), Brian Like (M Fencing) and Kevin Melnick (M Golf) were awarded ACC Postgraduate Scholarships for distinguished achievement in academics, athletics and community service. They were honored at the annual ACC Scholarship Banquet in Greensboro, NC in April. The ACC’s annual Academic Honor Roll consists of varsity sport participants who have compiled a grade point average of 3.00 or better for the entire year. This year’s list included 370 BC student-athletes, the second highest total in the conference behind Duke.
C. NCAA Measures of Student-Athlete Academic Progress
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) continues to use two measures of academic achievement as part of its Academic Performance Program (APP). These are the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), and they are applied at each NCAA Division I member school for all student-athletes who receive athletically-related financial aid.
The APR looks at the eligibility, retention and graduation of all athletically-aided student-athletes (and, for teams that do not award athletic aid, all recruited student-athletes). The APR awards 1 point for each student-athlete who is academically eligible to compete in the next semester and an additional point if that student-athlete returns to school for the next semester. For the academic year, therefore, each student-athlete could receive a maximum of four points for the fall and spring semesters. The APR compares the total number of points actually received in a given year to the maximum total points.
The primary use of the APR measure is on a team-by-team, rather than an overall institutional basis. The NCAA has imposed a cutoff APR of 925 (i.e., 92.5% of the maximum total points), and any school with a team whose four-year average APR falls below that level in its sport may be subject to penalties in the form of reduction of the maximum allowable financial aid for that sport. Based on the most recent data, none of BC’s teams were subject to these penalties. In addition, 8 of BC’s teams received public recognition from the NCAA for having an APR among the top 10% of Division I institutions sponsoring that sport. Further details can be found on the NCAA Web site: www.ncaa.org, under Academics, Division I.
The second measure of academic performance used by the NCAA is the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which measures the percentage of student-athletes entering an institution who graduate from that institution, excluding students who transfer to another institution while still academically eligible to compete at their initial institution. The latest data available cover students entering college in 2001, ’02, ’03 and ‘04. For Boston College student-athletes overall, the four-class average GSR was 97%, compared to a GSR of 80% for all Division I institutions combined. Nineteen of the varsity sports that BC currently sponsors achieved the highest possible GSR of 100%. Further details on graduation rates for individual sports and other NCAA schools can be found at www.ncaa.org, under Academics, Division I.
D. Student-Athlete Community Service
Annually, most BC student-athletes take part in any of a large number of community service activities, organized through BC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). These include visiting the Franciscan Children’s Hospital, volunteering at the Greater Boston Food Bank, reading to young students through the Help Educate through Athletic Responsibility (HEAR) program, and corresponding with young students through the Pen Pal program. For the fourth year, 22 BC student-athletes were chosen to participate in a 7-day service trip to New Orleans to help with the continuing rebuilding effort following Hurricane Katrina. Emily Charnowski (Rowing), Julia Bouchelle (W Soccer) and Bryan Murphy (football) were honored with the Mo Maloney Award for outstanding community service.
E. Athletic Program Highlights
BC teams achieved considerable success on the playing field during the past year. In the fall, women’s soccer was selected for the NCAA tournament for the 9th consecutive year, and they advanced to the third round (“Sweet Sixteen”) for the fourth consecutive season. Men’s Soccer advanced to the championship game of the ACC tournament and was also selected for the NCAA tournament for the 5th consecutive year. Football’s Luke Kuechly had an unprecedented string of individual honors, winning the Butkus Award, the Rotary Lombardi Award, the Lott Trophy and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, all given for individual defensive excellence. He was also named the outstanding male athlete in the ACC for 2011-12. In the winter, the men’s ice hockey team won its final 19 games, on its way to the Beanpot championship, the Hockey East regular-season and Tournament championships, and its third NCAA championship in the past five years. Goaltender Parker Milner earned the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player Award. The women’s ice hockey team tied last year’s school record with 24 wins, earning an NCAA tournament appearance in which they advanced to the national “Frozen Four” for the second consecutive year. In the spring, the sailing team won the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) women’s national championship, giving them 11 national titles in different categories in the past five years. In women’s track and field, Caroline King won the ACC’s 800 meter run championship for the third consecutive year and qualified for both the NCAA outdoor track and field championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials.
2. AAB Activities during 2011-12
A. AAB Monthly Meetings
Our guests this year included John Mahoney and Danielle Wells, Director and Sr. Assistant Director, respectively, in the Office of Undergraduate Admission; several members of the BC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC); Director of Athletics Gene DeFilippo; Learning Resources for Student-Athletes (LRSA) Director Dard Miller and Assistant Directors Lee Metzger and Clare Turkington; and Head Coaches Katie King Crowley (women’s ice hockey) and Frank Spaziani (football). Assistant Athletics Director for Facilities Joe Shirley also led a subgroup of the AAB on a tour of the Newton Campus athletic facilities in early December.
The AAB’s monthly meetings this year centered on four primary issues: (1) the student-athlete admissions process, (2) class scheduling difficulties encountered by student-athletes, (3) the overall experience of BC student-athletes and their relationships with the larger BC community, (4) and student-athlete academic support and academic integrity. The AAB heard a variety of perspectives on these issues, including those of coaches, student-athletes, and both academic and athletic administrators.
At our first meeting in October, the group discussed the annual report on BC scholarship student-athletes who leave school prior to completion of their degrees. During 2010-11, the year covered by the report, there were 18 such departures, somewhat above the average of 15 per year for the previous 12 years for which data are available. However, two of these students were close to completing their degrees and have since taken steps to do so. Six students also left school early to pursue professional sports opportunities during 2010-11. Prior to that, no more than four BC student-athletes in a given year had left school early for that reason. At the same meeting, AAB Chair Bob Taggart also updated the group on some new NCAA legislative initiatives, begun the previous summer and aimed at improving student-athlete welfare, strengthening the financial stability of college athletics programs, simplifying NCAA rules and revamping the rules enforcement process. Since that time new legislation has been adopted by the NCAA Board of Directors that allows schools to offer multiyear, instead of just one-year renewable athletic scholarships. The Board has also voted to raise academic requirements for initial eligibility of student-athletes and has instituted bans on postseason competition for teams with Academic Progress Rates (APRs) that fall below a certain threshold.
At our November meeting, Director John Mahoney and Sr. Assistant Director Danielle Wells of the Office of Undergraduate Admission explained the process of student-athlete admissions. John sketched the general context of admissions at BC, presenting statistical information on the rising number and quality of BC applicants and the rising quality of enrolled students in recent years. In addition to its academic reputation, location and range of available activities, John cited big-time college athletics as part of the overall package that makes BC attractive to student-athletes and non-athlete students alike. However, the rising academic quality of BC students makes the student-athlete admissions process more challenging: student-athletes face significant academic demands at BC, and they must be able to hold their own in a highly-qualified overall group. Danielle, who serves as the Office of Admission’s chief athletic liaison, described how she and six other Admissions staff members serve as liaisons to one or more of BC’s varsity sports each. They work with head coaches on the likely admissibility of recruited student-athletes. They also track the academic progress of student-athletes who have been admitted to help inform future admission decisions. In all cases, recruited student-athletes must apply to BC through the normal application process. Head coaches may appeal negative admission decisions, in which case the appeal is heard by the entire group of Admissions sports liaisons, but in all cases the Office of Admission makes the final decision, and that office must approve the sending of a National Letter of Intent to any prospective student-athlete.
Our December meeting was attended by five members from BC’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), representing the sports of field hockey, football, and men’s and women’s soccer. In a wide-ranging discussion with the AAB, the student-athletes talked about many aspects of the student-athlete experience at BC. As similar groups have done in the past, they pointed to the challenges student-athletes face in balancing practice and competition schedules in their sports with the classes needed for their chosen academic programs. They advocated some form of priority registration system for student-athletes to ease these challenges. In response to questions, some cited examples of successful use of the override system to schedule needed classes, but they felt that the ease of doing so varies widely across instructors. The student-athletes also felt that instructors differ in their understanding of the necessity to miss classes for competition, and some thought that a communication from a school administrator directly to instructors would be more effective than the currently-used missed class forms that instructors are asked to sign at the beginning of each semester. The student-athletes were asked about their relationships with the rest of the university community and their ability to take part in the overall life of the university. Some felt they had been subjected to stereotyping by other non-athletes, especially in the context of group projects for classes. Some cited differences across class-year cohorts of student-athletes in their receptiveness to interacting with the rest of the community. They suggested that upperclassmen on the various teams take some responsibility in advising younger teammates of the value of establishing relationships in the larger BC community. The student-athletes also pointed to the difficulties that their crowded schedules pose to taking part in other campus activities, ranging from service trips to the use of the Career Center. They expressed appreciation that the Athletics Department arranges a wide array of community service activities, including a service trip to New Orleans, specifically geared to student-athlete schedules. They also pointed to alumni networking initiatives that specific teams have promoted, and cited the help in arranging internships given by Alison Quandt, Director of Student-Athlete Development, to a number of student-athletes.
The February meeting was devoted to the AAB’s annual review of practice and competition schedules for the various teams. Some sports tend to pose class scheduling challenges for student-athletes each year, primarily because of a large number of contests in the sport and frequent travel. These include volleyball in the fall, and baseball and softball in the spring. These challenges are mitigated somewhat by the fact that competition in each of these sports occurs entirely during one semester, leaving the other semester for team members to pick up needed classes they may have had to forgo during the competition semester. Other sports tend to pose greater class scheduling challenges in some years than others, depending on the details of practice and competition schedules in a particular year. This past year, those sports included men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s track and lacrosse. For golf and track, class scheduling challenges are exacerbated by the necessity to practice off campus and by multiple-day competition. On the other hand, in both sports, not all team members make each away trip. For lacrosse this past year, the practice schedule, dictated in part by the need to share facilities on the Newton Campus with other sports, interacted with the competition schedule in a way that gave rise to class scheduling issues. Like baseball, softball and volleyball, however, all lacrosse competition occurs during a single semester. The AAB discussed whether the schedules in some sports effectively preclude certain majors or programs for student-athletes in those sports. It is clear that practice and competition schedules in some sports make certain majors, such as sciences with afternoon laboratory sessions, more difficult for team members. Data from Institutional Research, presented to the AAB in previous years, however, suggest that the distribution of BC student-athletes as a whole across majors and schools is not markedly different from that for the BC student body more generally.
BC’s Director of Athletics Gene DeFilippo attended the AAB’s March meeting. Following a brief review of recent academic, athletic and community service achievements of BC’s student-athletes, the discussion ranged over a number of topics. In response to a question about the number of different varsity sports offered at BC, Gene explained that this is a product of both the Jesuit ideal of educating the whole person and the need to offer equal athletic scholarship opportunities to men and women. He reviewed changes in BC’s varsity sports lineup since his arrival in 1997, in response to a class action suit that had been brought against BC by the National Women’s Law Center over the imbalance between men’s and women’s sports. BC now affords equal scholarship opportunities for men and women, in compliance with Title IX of the Equal Opportunities in Education Act. Gene reviewed recent and planned facilities improvements, including the construction of additional outdoor basketball courts for recreational use on the Newton Campus. In response to a question prompted by the SAAC representatives’ visit to our December meeting, he elaborated on Alison Quandt’s role as Director of Student-Athlete Development and especially her efforts to coordinate career-related initiatives with the BC Career Center. Finally, an AAB member, who was also part of a BC committee studying the problem, raised the issue of alcohol abuse on campus. This is not a problem peculiar to student-athletes, but factors that have been found to be correlated with university alcohol problems include Catholic schools, schools located in the Northeast, schools with relatively affluent student bodies, and athletic events, such as football games. All of these factors are present at BC. Gene acknowledged that the problem is a real one at BC, and he expressed the feeling that peer pressure from student leaders as well as more homework assignments in classes, especially those meeting on Friday mornings, might be able to make some inroads.
For our April meeting, AAB members went to the offices of Learning Resources for Student-Athletes (LRSA) to get a sense of their facilities and to meet with LRSA Director Dard Miller and Assistant Directors Lee Metzger and Clare Turkington. Dard described the 2010-2011 Academic Program Review that LRSA recently completed, culminating in a site visit by a committee of representatives from Duke University, the University of Notre Dame and Wake Forest University. One result of this review has been the addition of a Counselor and a Learning Specialist to the LRSA staff. Still, LRSA needs to support approximately 750 student-athletes with a relatively small staff. A key factor in doing so, Dard explained, is that the majority of BC student-athletes have academic qualifications similar to those of the rest of the BC student body, and they need very little help. This frees LRSA to devote a good deal of its time to the relatively small number of student-athletes with the greatest need. The visiting committee also emphasized the importance of integrating student-athletes with the rest of the student body, and Dard described some new initiatives to coordinate with other parts of the university on study abroad and career preparation for student-athletes. One AAB member asked about the course advisement that incoming student-athletes receive on summer courses, prior to their first full semester of enrollment. This discussion has subsequently resulted in efforts to better evaluate these students’ preparedness for such courses as calculus. There was also some discussion of student-athlete involvement in academic integrity cases, a topic that has come up several times in AAB meetings in recent years. There is very little data to indicate whether or not student-athlete involvement in such cases has increased. Dard described her staff’s efforts to raise student-athlete awareness of citation standards and other academic integrity issues.
The AAB has been devoting one of its meetings in recent years to a discussion with coaches, and our guests at the May meeting were Head Coaches Katie King Crowley (women’s ice hockey) and Frank Spaziani (football). Part of the discussion centered on academic issues, such as whether student-athletes tend to cluster in certain majors and the difficulties student-athletes face in scheduling classes. Katie said that a number of her team members are in the Lynch School of Education, but that the team overall represents a considerable range of academic interests. Frank said he felt there was some tendency for team members to major in Communication, but that there is also a substantial range of interests. Further discussion brought out the point that the BC student body generally has been gravitating more toward majors with a potential career connection, resulting in increasing numbers of students in subjects such as communication, economics and finance. Some departments may also tend to have more classes in a schedule format, such as one class meeting per week, which may be more amenable to student-athlete schedules. Both coaches described accommodations they have made on practice in the past to help student-athletes needing to take lab courses or a teaching practicum. Both believed that most majors or programs could be accommodated under their teams’ schedules, but Katie did advocate some form of priority registration for student-athletes. Finally, both coaches were asked about whether it is difficult to recruit student-athletes to BC. Both acknowledged the need to find recruits who are academically engaged. At the same time, both expressed the feeling that BC is a special place and highly attractive to the right type of student. Katie said that BC offers an unusual range of opportunities for academic, athletic and social development, and she is struck by how much her team members enjoy going to school here. She believes she is most successful when she can recruit student-athletes who will visit the campus and experience the atmosphere here. Frank emphasized the importance of recruiter continuity in making prospective student-athletes aware of the BC experience, and he emphasized the sense of family community that pervades BC. He also remarked that membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference raises BC’s national visibility, which can be an important element in recruiting.
B. Committee Composition
At the beginning of the year, the AAB welcomed newly-elected member Bill Keane. Don Fishman (Communication) and Burt Howell (Intersections) were also appointed to new three-year terms by Fr. Leahy, and Jessica Greene (Institutional Research) and Ed Taylor (CSOM) were each reappointed to a second three-year term. At the end of the academic year, Bob Murphy (Economics) and Joe Pedulla (LSOE) completed their elected terms on the Board. Bob Murphy was reelected to a second three-year term during the year, and Richard Jackson (LSOE) was elected to a new three-year term, beginning June 2012.
Please feel free to seek out any AAB member with questions and concerns you may have. One of the Board’s primary functions is to serve as a channel for communication between the academic and athletic programs, and we are always open to your questions or other input.
The Athletics Advisory Board, 2011-12:
Richard Albert (Law) Kathleen Bailey (Political Science)
Donald Fishman (Communication) Jessica Greene (Institutional Research)
Burton Howell (Intersections) William Keane (Mathematics)
Robert Murphy (Economics) Joseph Pedulla (LSOE)
Edward Taylor (CSOM) Robert Taggart (CSOM, AAB Chair and
Faculty Athletics Representative)